We all need other people in order to help us grow! Whether you’re looking for a job, a contact, promoting a service or looking to collaborate, there are many ways to go about it. In today’s episode, Jennifer shares some thoughts and pointers on how to network by building and maintaining relationships with generosity and respect.
- Back in May, Jennifer tweeted about requests that she had received to work for free, which prompted her to synthesize some thoughts on the do’s and don’ts of networking. She talks about these communications and their underlying flawed assumptions about the value of one’s time and energy, and she lays out the following common situations that can benefit from her pointers:
- Job Hunting. Whether you’re a recent graduate or looking to make a change, tapping your network for opportunities means reaching out to key individuals. Jennifer talks about some of her early missteps on her journey to becoming a speaker and entrepreneur back in episode 7 of the Impact Makers Podcast as well some of the lessons she learned in the process.
- Questions and Curiosity. You may be looking for advice, tips, or leads from established professionals or individuals that you think might help you along in your journey. In our digital age, we are often both the sender and receiver of sales communications. Whether it be through a job, a startup or personal businesses, reaching out to individuals is part of the game.
- Audience Appreciation. Many people reach out to creators to let them know that the content they are producing is enjoyed and valued. Creating a connection this way can be difficult, as creators often receive many messages from a wide range of people.
- With these situations in mind, here are Jennifer’s 5 tips for reaching out and making connections:
- #1: Do Your Homework FIRST. Before you reach out, make sure you know exactly why you’re sending a message in the first place. What are your goals, what is your purpose and what specifically are you working on? Including this in your initial communication will streamline your exchange to get down to it.
- Ask yourself: “why am I reaching out to X or Y person?” Make sure that they understand why you think that they can help. Being specific in your request also simplifies things. The easier it is for them to say yes, the more likely they will do so. Jennifer tells a couple of stories about what catches her attention when people reach out to her.
- #2: Referrals from a Mutual Contact. Review your network to see if you know anyone who has a legitimate existing relationship (not just a LinkedIn connection) with the person you want to connect with. If your mutual contact is amenable to a name drop – or is willing to personally introduce you, all the better.
- #3: Emails, Voicemails and In-Person Requests. Regardless of communication medium, be clear with your question and provide very easy options for follow-up. Be flexible, willing to travel and be thankful! Show your appreciation from them taking time out their day to meet or talk with you.
- #4 Persistent and friendly follow-up. We all have busy lives. If you reach out and don’t get a response, err on the side of understanding. Who knows why they didn’t respond? For Jennifer, the maximum number of follow-up communications is 3. After that, it’s time to move on.
- #5 The Best Way to Get is to Give. Everyone wants to know that their work matters. One of the best ways to create connections is to champion the work of others. Sharing their work with your network and genuinely engaging with their content over time will help you stand out as someone who truly appreciates their efforts. You can also recommend them in a business context.
- Remember, these folks have to eat too! If you’re reaching out to someone with a service or resource you want to access, offer to buy it! Expecting someone to offer for free what they regularly get paid to do isn’t very respectful of their time and energy.
- There are no rules about who can learn from who. Another way to get noticed is to share what you’ve learned and what you’re working on, whether that be in a blog, on social media or in a publication.
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